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London Travel Guide

London is everything you would expect from a Capital City with a lot of history and more, and the good news now thanks to the irresponsibility of bankers worldwide is that London is not as expensive to visit as it has been for the last 10 or more years.

The pound hasn’t quite sunk without trace though, it still has some value but because the London’s economy is so closely linked to banking and financial services the pound was hit pretty hard and that means that your Dollar, Yen or Euro is going to buy so much more.

When people talk about London or indeed England they usually mention rain, but because of global warming summers in London are warm to hot these days, and that makes sightseeing a dream and it has to be said there are so many sights both old and new to see, the Queen and The London Eye are on the top of most people’s list, but those lists will just goes on and on.

One great way to take in most of the sights of London is a river trip, because like most very old cities London was built on first one then both banks of a river, in London’s case the River Thames.

From a river boat you will be able to take in the Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, The South Bank Arts Complex, The Globe Theatre a reproduction of a theatre from the time of Shakespeare, the Tower of London while gliding effortlessly under famous bridges like London Bridge and Tower Bridge and of course see so much more.

As well as the river London is famous for large open spaces of green and you can escape from the almost constant noise of this City that simply refuses to sleep for a moment into the delightful parks like St. James’ Park which lies behind Downing Street where the British Prime Minister has his official residence.

Surprisingly you can wander the length of the Mall and still be in St James’ Park down passed Duck and even Pelican Ponds to Buckingham Palace where the Queen of Great Britain has her official residence.

You can even check to see if she is at home by looking to see if the Royal Standard is flying above the Palace. You will be lucky to see her ‘at home’ though because the Queen favours Windsor Palace which is about 20 miles to the west of London where it is quieter and less polluted.

London is a sightseers’ dream, there is always something around the corner, from the blue plaque on the wall of the flat where Jimi Hendrix died at the back of Oxford Street to the beautifully restored St Pancras station now home to the International Rail (Channel Tunnel) Rail Service but for so many years a derelict condemned building.

At night even more of London comes alive and as well as being able to enjoy some excellent free live music in the cafés and bars there is the exciting sight of the river-scape alive with lasers lights and often fireworks.

London is not to be missed and that is why it is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world and so it is probably no surprise that there are enough hotel beds in London to sleep the populations of dozens of major cities worldwide!

The surprise would be that most of these hotel beds are booked well in advance and so careful planning is required to get a great hotel at just the right price.

A good way to do that would be to use a website where you can compare prices and availability, though there are dozens of these here is an honest recommendation bookingspot.

Madeira – The Best All Round Climate In Europe?

When searching for a European destination for a short break or holiday, surely Madeira Island offers the best climate of anywhere?

So many people couldn’t even point to it on a map, and there is a common misconception that it sits in mainland Spain, often being confused with the City of Madrid. See Madeira Location below.

With a summer maximum of 29° centigrade (OK, occasionally there have been exceptions), and a winter low of around 17° centigrade, where else can you find such bearable temperatures. Even the sea only wavers a degree or two above and below the 20° centigrade mark all year around. But, I have to be honest here and say that climate is not necessarily the case for the whole island, as clearly the higher you go, and also the more northerly you travel there is a greater chance of rain, and there has on rare occasions been snow on the mountain tops.

However, if you stick to the southerly coast and go west from Funchal (the capital city), as far as Calheta or maybe a little beyond, the weather is pretty unbeatable. The island is like that, its full of microclimates, and even the types of trees and plants vary visibly across the island.

Rain is a pretty rare event along this stretch, with the odd few long and heavy showers during the year, but over the last 4 years, rain worthy of mention has probably fallen less than once a month on average, mostly in the winter.

Now, should you go to one of the many weather forecasting websites to see if this article carries any fact, you may well see predictions of cloud and rain, and that forecast will be based on Atlantic weather systems, which may or may not stray over Madeira in part or in full. In reality the weather phenomenon is generated by Madeira’s own mountainous terrain, forcing hot air to cool rapidly and precipitate over the higher ground. For those of you who have been to Tenerife Island, you will see a very similar weather variation between the north and the south.

What is amazing however, is despite this very dry climate along the coast, rain in the mountains is plentiful, and due to the volcanic nature of the rock and a system of over 2,000 kilometres of very old surface level water channels (See Madeira Levada below) the island stays wonderfully green all year around and is famed for its wild and natural flower displays – See Madeira Flowers below.

OK, so I hear the Canary Islands are warmer, but firstly do they really count as European, just because they use the € currency. They do have strong historical links and dependencies on mainland Spain, but they are outside of EU control for administrative matters, and for example, they don’t have the tax or customs duty regime for items purchased by tourists to take back home, such as on spirits and cigarettes.

Secondly, even if you do consider the Canary Islands to be part of mainstream Europe, the climate may on average be slightly warmer all year around, but who wants to be in 40°c sweltering heat for weeks on end during the height of summer? 29°c is quite warm enough for the vast majority of us, and it doesn’t often hit that on Madeira.

Anyway, the rest of mainland Europe falls well outside of the discussion, and even the Mediterranean islands don’t enjoy winters as nearly as mild as the Madeirans do.

The weather of Madeira is something of a well guarded secret, as is the Madeiran archipelago in many respects. The average age of the visiting tourist is 55, and there is a good reason for that, and that is because older people feel the cold more and know where to go to avoid it. With around 1.5 million foreign visitors each year, the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo save these people millions of euros in heating bills back home, and allow them the freedom to spend most of the winter outdoors. Winter is a peak season for Madeira, especially so over the new year period.

Whilst for certain many people will have differing views on the best European climates, those who don’t try a winter or summer break on Madeira at sometime in their lives, they have not only missed out a practical guarantee of good weather, they have also missed out on one of the most beautiful travel destinations in the world.

As the final testimony in the case for Madeira weather, it is a fact that practically nobody has either heating systems or air conditioning, either in their home, or their place of work.

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